Stay-at-Home Economics

Stay-at-Home Economics

The continuing feminist refrain is that women who stay at home raising their kids are demeaning themselves and taking economic risks. But Megan Basham writes that staying at home may make the most economic sense for mothers. One of the feminist claims is that by removing themselves for the workforce, women are making themselves dependent on their husbands for their future security. Well, isn’t that what marriage is about? Working together in a mutually dependent relationship to accomplish together what one person alone could not or could only do through immense personal sacrifice?

Yet if off-ramping is the dangerous “high-stakes gamble” Bennetts and her supporters claim, why are so many smart, rational women laying their money and their futures on the table? Perhaps because even a cursory look at hard data (rather than the collection of sad stories Bennetts has put forth) indicates that, statistically, there is very little to fear from making motherhood a career choice. Indeed, having one partner out of the workforce can actually provide protection against financial ruin.

Basham responds to the fear tactics with facts. Feminists claim that husbands commonly abandon their wives and leave them saddled with kids and no personal resources. This is not true. In fact, two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women. Of course, some number of those divorces are sought because of the husband’s actions, such as adultery or abuse, but even so women are often in control of the divorce train right from the beginning.

In fact, stay-at-home moms are less likely to get divorced than working wives, and that couples are much more likely to break-up when they are earning equal incomes than if only one is the primary income-earner. It doesn’t say whether this is due to jealousy or whether the stresses and pressures of two working parents or some other factor plays the primary role. Interestingly, “When the higher-earning partner does leave, it is most often the wife.”

While one income is better in the long run

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  • I heartily agree that the word ‘partner’ should never be used in relation to marriage.

    “Partner was introduced in order to lump marriages together with unmarried unions of people living together and same-sex relationships”

    Social engineering at its finest.

  • “The reason is simple: Families with two incomes will become dependent on both incomes to survive. People spend up to and beyond their means.”

    I agree with this. I have a co-worker who complains about how tight money is even with two incomes, but they have lots of “toys” and each weekend are going off some where.

    I am very fortunate and blessed to have a good, well paying job now, though even before reaching this level we were able to make it on one income. On the expense side, there are no child care fees, most of our meals are at home, and without both of us commuting to work our vehicle expenses are low (we average about 4000 per year on our minivan).

  • And there are situations where it may make sense for the husband to become the home-based parent when the children are school-age. There are couples who take turns.

  • Dom

    I have known couples where the husband was clearly more adept in homemaking/parenting skills. There certainly is a strong tendency for women to be better at this than men, but it’s not universal, and it ultimately depends on each family.

  • The feminists are not wrong about the risk, but ironically, the feminist mentality is one reason why former stay-at-home moms lose in a divorce situation. If she was a professional and agreed to stay home to nurture her children, she may be judged as “lazy”. All the well-planned activities, the lessons, the outings, the community service—it all counts for nothing because she has generated no income. The feminist ideology likes dollar signs.
    So, the risk is high. Marriage and children are worth the risk, certainly, but the risk a woman has to take into account before she marries is much higher BECAUSE she may be seen as a “freeloader” if she ends up in family court without an impressive income to laud her efforts.